Many people want to know how they can find the perfect addiction treatment center or rehab that will solve all of their problems.
In fact, after publishing an article yesterday about how exactly to get the most out of treatment, someone emailed me and asked where they could find a good treatment center. So this article here is in answer to that question.
But before we get into how we can actually find a treatment center, let’s talk a little bit about a very comment myth that goes along with treatment itself.
The myth of the perfect treatment solution
There is this belief that I have seen over and over again that if the struggling addict or alcoholic could just find the perfect treatment center then they would be healed of all their problems.
It is a very common myth and I believe that we are sort of hard wired to think that way and to believe it.
Many of our problems in life have a unique solution. For example, we have a broken lamp shade and we could replace it with any number of shades but there is one out there that is just perfect for the job, and our minds will not rest until we get that perfect solution. Many of our other problems in life fit this similar mold–we have a problem and there is an optimal, even a perfect solution.
Addiction recovery does not really work like that. There is no perfect solution. There is no million dollar cure. If the most important and richest person in the world needs help with addiction, there is no super-elite treatment center that has super advanced techniques that the rest of the world does not have access to. This is a very important point and I see people over and over again who do not really “get it.” They think that if they only had enough money or enough status that they could somehow purchase better addiction treatment and be “cured” without any fuss. This illusion seems to persist even in the face of wealthy celebrities who obviously have all of the same struggles with addiction that us mere mortals have. They go to fancy treatment centers and eat nicer food but they are faced with the exact same battle, and there is no miracle cure. Sure there is treatment, there is rehab, there is support and meetings and help available to them–but there is no magic cure that becomes available if only you put forth enough money.
So I want to make sure that you are being realistic here and not falling into the trap of the perfect rehab myth. There is no perfect rehab, there is no cure, and there is no way to pay tons of extra money in order to drastically improve your chances at treatment.
Of course there is still a continuum of choices available in the world of getting help for your addiction. For example, you might just wander into a local AA meeting and beg them for help and not go to rehab at all. They might try to detox you right there in their AA meeting hall or at home on one of their couches. Then you might simply attend free meetings until you are back on your feet and can learn this new way of life. People have actually achieved sobriety in this way without ever setting foot into a treatment center. This would be one end of the treatment continuum.
After that you might have things like counseling. Therapy for an hour or two each week. Outpatient groups. Maybe someone might go to detox and just stay for 3 days until they are dried out. Then they might go to meetings on their own. Does that really count as “treatment?” Sure it does. It’s a lot less than the standard 28 days but people have (and do) get clean and sober that way. Of course many people try certain techniques to get sober and fail as well.
At the far end of the continuum would be the person who has gone to several treatment centers and has also lived in long term rehab several times. I have met such individuals myself and I know that they exist. I have met a person who was living with me in a long term treatment center who was on his 23rd trip to rehab. After he left that last rehab he relapsed and died from an overdose very suddenly. Unfortunately nothing seemed to work for that guy, he just kept trying and failing, over and over again. Living in rehab was not good enough. It was not enough treatment to solve his problem. Apparently nothing could have solved his problem.
And this is exactly my point–there is no magic cure out there. It doesn’t matter if you happen to be the Queen of England or the president of the U.S., there is no magic cure for addiction that can be summoned up if you only have enough money. There is no secret rehab strategy that is reserved for the world’s wealthiest. Most treatment centers are based on a few different models of treatment and they all have pretty much the same basic rates of success (part of the problem with this is that accurately measuring “success” after rehab is very difficult).
So just make sure that you are not falling into the trap that there is a perfect cure out there, if only you could stumble on it and find it. There definitely is not a perfect cure.
Furthermore, I would suggest that if you are truly at a point of surrender in your life, then it matters very little which treatment center you attend. It is still an important moment though and I believe that you definitely need to attend treatment of some kind, but it is not the critical decision that everyone believes that it is. Just pick somewhere and commit to recovery and go to rehab. Don’t fret and worry endlessly over which rehab will be perfect for you. There are no magic cures. Taking action is much more important than getting the perfect rehab.
Why surrender level is 100 times more important than where you attend rehab
Ultimately what matters at the point of recovery is how deep your level of surrender is at that time.
This is the number one factor which will make or break your success in recovery.
If you have reached a point of total surrender then it is much more likely that you will take the actions that you need to take in order to get clean and sober.
What sort of actions? you may ask.
In order to change your life you have to become open to new suggestions. You have to be willing to take direction from other people in early recovery. Your own ideas about how to overcome addiction and alcoholism have, by definition, not worked out well for you. (If your own ideas had worked out, you would not be addicted!). Therefore you need new information in order to recover.
And this is not an easy thing to do or an easy transition to make. It takes courage and guts in order to squash your own ego and start learning from other people. It takes a lot of effort in order to push your own ideas aside and take advice from others. Doing so is not a little thing. For one thing, you have to actually listen to the ideas that you are given and then act on them. Just listening is not going to get you sober. You have to act. So when they suggest that you go to counseling, you have to actually go to counseling and get honest with someone. If they suggest that you go to meetings every day, then you have to actually go to meetings every single day and participate in them. If they suggest that you go to a certain treatment center or do certain things for aftercare, then you have to follow through on these things and actually show up and participate and adopt this new life.
When I was working in a treatment center for several years I could tell when people were fighting an uphill battle. They had come to treatment and they wanted sobriety and recovery on some level, but clearly they had not surrendered fully to their disease just yet. They were far too passive. This is what was difficult to put my finger on at the time, but looking back now I can see that this is a problem that many people in early recovery have. They are too passive. They are not taking massive action in their lives. They are not using the right approach to recovery, which is to take new suggestions and implement them into their lives.
And so these people who are too passive end up relapsing. And this is not really shocking to anyone, because we could clearly see that they were not putting in enough effort. They had shown up to treatment but they did not have the right attitude, the right approach. They were not pushing hard enough. They did not take massive action.
And the reason that they had failed to take massive action can be traced back to a lack of surrender.
So it matters very little if you find “the perfect treatment center” if you are not taking massive action. And the only reason you would not be taking massive action is that you have failed to fully surrender to your disease.
Therefore it should follow from this that your level of surrender is much more important than where you choose to attend rehab.
Another way to say this is that your timing is much more important than your execution. In other words, you could choose the best possible treatment center and do all of the right things by going to it and trying hard to follow through and to say all the right things, but if you are not yet at that critical point of surrender then it is not going to make any difference. On the other hand, if you have reached a point of total surrender and you choose a rather lousy treatment center to go to, you will still probably do very well because it is all about your level of surrender. Timing is more important than location. If you get the timing right (full and total surrender) then everything else should fall into place. Alternatively, choosing the perfect rehab center is not enough to make up for poor timing (a lack of surrender).
My personal story of going to treatment
My own experience of going to 3 different treatment centers throughout my life backs this all up.
At one point I went to a well known treatment center that had a very good reputation, but at the time I was not at the point of full surrender. I did not do well upon leaving that treatment center and relapsed immediately. A year later I had reached a point of full surrender and it was suggested that I check into a local treatment center, which I did willingly. This was my true point of surrender and I have been successfully clean and sober ever since. The point here is that the first treatment center that I attended was much more “advanced” and had a better reputation. Obviously none of that really matters though if your timing is bad. If you are not in a state of full surrender then you are likely not going to remain clean and sober, regardless of which rehab you attend.
Suggestion: get on the phone and start calling places. Ask lots of questions.
So my suggestion to you at this point is to first determine your level of surrender.
Are you really done using drugs and alcohol? Are you finished with the madness and the chaos and the misery?
Are you ready to take action and actually do some things in order to build a new life in recovery? Are you willing to put effort into recovery rather than to just go to a rehab and be passive and dry out?
These are the sorts of questions that you need to ask yourself before attending treatment.
Of course there is also the idea that you potentially should attend rehab even if you are not yet in a state of full surrender. There are a few arguments for doing so:
1) You have never been to rehab before and do not know what to expect at all. You are afraid to attend but you know that you have a problem with drugs or alcohol. So you may go just to see what the potential solution is (even though you may not be desperate for a solution like someone who is fully surrendered might be).
2) You are miserable and just want the misery to end, even though you are not necessarily willing to do anything to achieve a new life just yet, you still want the bad stuff to go away.
3) You have been to treatment before and it did not work for you, but you are frustrated with your addiction and you want something else in life. You may not be willing to embrace recovery concepts (such as AA/NA) but you know you want something other than what you are experiencing.
Not everyone who surrenders will fully embrace the solutions that they are offered. I admit that even when I surrendered this last time around I was very leery of AA meetings due to my social anxiety. I did not want to attend the meetings every day but I realized that I probably had no choice.
So ultimately my suggestion to you is to get on the phone. Start making calls. Get out pencil and paper and get on the phone and talk to everyone that you can about treatment and what you need to do to get in and get help (or what your friend or family member needs to do to get in and get the help that they need).
Call up a treatment center and ask questions. How much will it cost? Do they take insurance? Do they take Medicaid, Medicare, etc? Are there other funding options available?
Maybe you will reach a dead end on the first call that you make. Dig a little deeper then:
Are there other treatment centers in the area? Do you have their phone number? Do you know their names so I can look them up online and call them?
Are there other rehabs around here that might be able to help? That might have different fee structures or funding options?
Don’t just accept a flat “no, we can’t help you” as your answer. Dig deeper and find an alternative. Dig deeper and find another potential solution.
The goal should be to get into professional treatment of some kind, and preferably one that includes a medical detox.
Taking action versus the alternative
In every case you are going to be taking a constant choice in your journey:
To take action or to do nothing. It is important to realize that “doing nothing” is actually perpetuating your addiction or alcoholism. The disease will continue to progress and get worse and worse over time if left unchecked. So there should be some urgency to this so that you can make something happen and create change.
They have a saying in AA: “If nothing changes, nothing changes.” Therefore your journey is all about taking action. What have you actually done for your recovery today? How have you moved closer to the solution?
If there is chaos and misery in your life then the only way to overcome it is by taking massive action. You have to do something in order to change. Keep in mind how ineffective the “passive mindset” is…think back to all of the struggling addicts and alcoholics that I have watched who relapsed in early recovery because they were far too passive. If you want to stay clean and sober then you need to take real action.
There is no perfect treatment center–but there is an optimal approach to recovery. That approach involves full surrender, taking action, and getting the professional help that you need. Just realize that the surrender and taking action are much more important than the actual rehab that you attend.